A condition where the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and painful.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot-related diagnoses in Canada, causing heel pain in as many as 7% of people. Plantar fasciitis which goes untreated can lead to severe pain that affects daily life and even simple activities.
It’s important to understand what plantar fasciitis is, how to know if you’re at risk, and when to see a chiropodist about your symptoms.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament which begins at the heel bone and ends at the bones which form the base of the toes (called the metatarsal bones). This ligament, which runs along the bottom of the foot, helps to absorb the shock associated with walking, running, or otherwise putting pressure on your feet.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Because the plantar fascia isn’t as flexible as muscle, high pressure, consistent stress, or overstretching can result in tiny injuries and small tears along the ligament which result in inflammation and pain.
Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury. It is common in individuals who work on their feet, in long-distance runners, individuals who are overweight, those with a high arch or a flat foot, and individuals that do not utilizing supportive footwear
Symptoms to Recognize
Those with plantar fasciitis will usually experience discomfort at the bottom of the heel, though this pain can also extend to the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis pain typically:
- Is worse first thing in the morning
- Feels like a shooting or stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot
- Is worse when first standing after sitting down for a long time
- Will decrease after walking for a short time but then get worse again after an extended period of walking
Who Can Get Plantar Fasciitis?
There are some people that are more prone to plantar fasciitis than others. For example, if you are overweight or do a lot of exercise, you are at risk of this condition. Even if you have a high arch or a flat foot, this can mean that you are subject to more pressure and stress. This can result in tears and damage to the plantar fascia, leading to pain. Indeed, if you do not wear supportive footwear, this can expose you to plantar fasciitis.
What Symptoms Will I Experience?
When you have plantar fasciitis, it is common to feel pain in your foot. In particular, this can be at the bottom of your heel. In addition, there can be shooting or stabbing pain in the arch of your foot. The discomfort is often most prominent first thing in the morning, as well as if you have sitting for a long period of time. A lot of people feel that light exercise is able to relieve some discomfort.
When to See a Professional
Pain associated with plantar fasciitis can become severe if left untreated, leading to difficulty performing daily tasks. In order to avoid the more serious pain associated with plantar fasciitis, consult with a professional as soon as you recognize discomfort, tenderness, or other painful symptoms.
What to Expect
Your chiropodist will ask you some questions about your medical history, level of activity, pain patterns, footwear, and other factors which may be related to plantar fasciitis. In most cases, further tests won’t be necessary for a diagnosis.
Once a chiropodist has determined that plantar fasciitis is the cause of your symptoms, you’ll likely be recommended one or more of several treatments.
For example, your chiropodist may suggest:
- Stretching, including stretching the hamstrings, calves, ankles, and the plantar fascia itself
- New footwear, particularly if you are wearing worn-out shoes without arch support
- Orthotics for increased support
- Weight loss
- Ice to reduce pain and swelling
- Anti-inflammatory medication, which can be purchased over the counter and will help to reduce the pain and swelling associated with plantar fasciitis
- Steroid injections in severe cases where relief cannot be found with other medications or treatment.
Good news! It’s possible to achieve complete relief from plantar fasciitis. So don’t hesitate to contact a professional as you explore at-home treatment options and lifestyle changes to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain.
What Treatment is Available for Plantar Fasciitis?
A foot specialist, such as a chiropodist, will be able to diagnose plantar fasciitis and recommend the best treatment for your symptoms. For example, you may find some stretches and exercises that offer relief. New footwear can be beneficial, as well as orthotics. Support and cushioning are going to be key. If you are overweight, losing a few pounds can help too.
If you are experiencing pain with plantar fasciitis, ice can help to reduce any swelling. You can also take anti-inflammatory medication. If you have a bad case of plantar fasciitis, steroid injections can be recommended by a chiropodist.